Omar Barghouti (born 1964) is a founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) who is currently studying for a masters degree in philosophy at Tel Aviv University, Israel. He was born in Qatar, grew up in Egypt and later moved to Ramallah (West Bank) as an adult.
Barghouti holds a Masters degree in electrical engineering from Columbia University. Barghouti also holds a masters degree in philosophy (ethics) from Tel Aviv University, on which he has commented: "My studies at Tel Aviv University are a personal matter and I have no interest in commenting." The university has announced it has no plans to expel him after a petition was lodged by students calling for his expulsion.
PACBI released a statement branding the calls to expel Barghouti as "McCarthyist". In this statement, PACBI defended Barghouti by asserting that requiring Palestinians to boycott Israeli universities themselves as a prerequisite to endorsing the BDS call is "an absurd position, given the complete lack of alternatives available" to them and that it would effectively amount to requiring Palestinians to deny themselves education.
Barghouti has consistently spoken of Israel as an apartheid state, stating: "From now on, it will be acceptable to compare Israel's apartheid system to its South African predecessor. As a consequence, proposing practical measures to punish Israeli institutions for their role in the racist and colonial policies of their state will no longer be considered beyond the pale." Also: "Characterising Israel's legalised system of discrimination as apartheid – as was done by Tutu, Jimmy Carter and even a former Israeli attorney general – does not equate Israel with South Africa. No two oppressive regimes are identical. Rather, it asserts that Israel's bestowal of rights and privileges according to ethnic and religious criteria fits the UN-adopted definition of apartheid." Barghouti advocates what he holds to be an ethical vision for a unitary, secular democratic state for "historic Palestine", present-day Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Barghouti refers to Israeli practices using comparisons to Nazi Germany: "Many of the methods of collective and individual “punishment” meted out to Palestinian civilians at the hands of young, racist, often sadistic and ever impervious Israeli soldiers at the hundreds of checkpoints littering the occupied Palestinian territories are reminiscent of common Nazi practices against the Jews."
Barghouti accuses Palestinians who have engaged with Israelis in intellectual debates and artistic partnerships in the spirit of inter-cultural dialogue, decontextualized from the political economy of enforced population expulsion and territorial occupation, of being "guilty of moral blindness and political shortsightedness" and "clinically delusional or dangerously deceptive." In response, Samir El-Youssef states that "Barghouti’s 'true peace based on justice' is that Israel must be punished, brought down to its knees, before a Palestinian is allowed to greet an Israeli in the street".
Joel Fishman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, in reviewing Barghouti's 2010 book, says, regarding the land, that "Barghouti argues that the Palestinians have inalienable rights, while those of the Jews were acquired, even if they received international recognition" which he says "makes the Palestinians more equal than the Jews, and historically is wrong".
After Barghouti published an opinion piece supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement in the New York Daily News in February 2013, the Daily News itself responded with an editorial saying that Barghouti is "skilled as a propagandist" and that "he piles falsehood upon falsehood to present Israel as relentlessly oppressing the Palestinians in violation of human decency, and to hold Israel exclusively responsible for the ills afflicting them." The Daily News says that Barghouti wants a “secular, democratic state built on an influx of Arabs who come to dominate the population and vote an end to Israel as a Jewish nation. That, ultimately, is the nefarious truth behind his libels."
- Barghouti, Omar (2011). Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights. Haymarket Books. ISBN 978-1-60846-114-1.
- Academic boycotter to study in Tel Aviv
- Omar Barghouti (12 August 2010). "Besieging Israel's siege". The Guardian (London).
- Platt, Edward (12 November 2009). "A state of collapse". New Statesman. "For over 25 years, I've supported the unitary, secular, democratic state solution for historic Palestine, because I regard it as the most ethical solution to all involved. It reconciles the inalienable rights of the indigenous Palestinian Arabs with the acquired rights of Jewish Israelis."
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